March 17th, 2020
Sometimes, teeth need to be removed due to decay, disease or trauma. Having a tooth “pulled” is called a tooth extraction.
When you have an extraction, it’s natural that changes will occur in your mouth. Your dentist may give you instructions to follow after the extraction, and it’s important to talk to your dentist if you have any questions or problems. Here are some general guidelines to help promote healing, prevent complications, and make you more comfortable.
Before the extraction, you will be given an anesthetic to reduce your discomfort. Your mouth will remain numb for a few hours after the extraction. While your mouth is numb, you’ll want to be careful not to bite your cheek, lip or tongue. Do not eat any foods that require chewing while your mouth is numb. The numbness should go away within several hours. If it doesn’t, contact your dentist.
Your dentist may place a gauze pack on the extraction site to limit bleeding. This will also help a blood clot to form, which is necessary for normal healing. This gauze pack should be left in place for 30 to 45 minutes after you leave the dentist’s office.
Do not chew on the pack. There may be some bleeding or oozing after the pack is removed. If so, here’s what to do:
The blood clot that forms in the tooth socket is an important part of the normal healing process. You should avoid doing things that might disturb the clot. Here’s how to protect it:
Do not clean the teeth next to the healing tooth socket for the rest of the day. You should, however, brush and floss your other teeth well and begin cleaning the teeth next to the healing tooth socket the next day. You can also brush your tongue. This will help get rid of the bad breath and unpleasant taste that are common after an extraction.
The day after the extraction, gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water (half a teaspoon salt in an 8 oz. glass of warm water) after meals to keep food particles out of the extraction site. Try not to rinse your mouth vigorously, as this may loosen the blood clot. If you have hypertension, discuss with your dentist whether you should rinse with salt water. Avoid using a mouthwash during this early healing period unless your dentist advises you to do so.
If your dentist has prescribed medicine to control pain and inflammation, or to prevent infection, use it only as directed. If the pain medication prescribed does not seem to work for you, do not take more pills or take them more often than directed-call your dentist.
After a tooth is removed, you may have some discomfort and notice some swelling. This is normal. To help reduce swelling and pain, try applying an ice bag or cold, moist cloth to your face. Your dentist may give you specific instructions on how long and how often to use a cold compress.
If you have any of the following issues, call your dentist immediately. If you cannot reach your dentist, go to a hospital emergency room.
After the extraction, drink lots of liquids and eat soft, nutritious foods. Avoid hot liquids and alcoholic beverages. Do not use a straw. Begin eating solid foods the next day or as soon as you can chew comfortably. For the first few days, try to chew food on the side opposite the extraction site. When it feels comfortable, you should resume chewing on both sides of your mouth.
If you have sutures that require removal, your dentist will tell you when to return to the office.
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